The Memory Book
The Memory Book
Fans of All the Bright Places and The Fault in Our Stars will fall head-over-heels for this wonderfully original portrait of love and loss. Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she's going to win the national debating championship, then she's going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer. But when Sam discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she'd planned so perfectly is derailed before its started. Realising that her life won't wait to be lived, Sam sets out on a summer of firsts. The first party. The first rebellion. The first friendship. The last love.Librarian's Book choice
Told in a diary style narrative, The Memory Book follows Sam McCoy as she deals with a life-changing illness. Diagnosed with Niemann-Pick, a form of dementia, Sam will inevitably lose her memory. Determined to give herself the best possible chance of remembering who she is, Sam starts a memory book, like a diary, telling her future self (Future Sam) who she is and what she wants. As she writes, Sam discovers the plans she has made for herself - winning the Nationals, making the Valedictorian speech and going to NYU - are less and less likely to be achieved but with dogged determination she fights her way forward. Sam's friends and family provide some support and advice but it's not always welcome; her illness affects them too. As it progresses, Sam has less and less freedom, which for a teenager desperate to break free is increasingly frustrating. Sam starts to realise perhaps she isn't the person she thought she was and it's only through her memory book that her true self is revealed. The Memory Book is utterly compelling. In practical terms, it's very easy to read with some 'chapters' only one line long (so a good choice for teens who don't want to read a 'long' book). But in emotional terms, it's heart-wrenching, with the final scenes in particular causing a flood of tears. With a fantastic cast of characters, the story comes to life. Sam is bold, brave and really inspiring considering what she is facing. Sam's family are introduced to us through childhood memories as well as 'current' moments. Through the various relationships Sam has, the journey of self-discovery is significant. You rejoice with her when she manages to achieve some of her goals, mourn those she can't and feel absolute heartache as her 'body is failing'. The story of Sam McCoy will stay with you long after reading. 368 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Victoria Dilly, consultant.